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Stijn Devolder wins the Tour of Flanders for the second time in row

Added: sunday 05 April 2009 at 22:43:00
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    Stijn Devolder wins the Tour of Flanders for the second time in rowToday the 93rd Tour of Flanders took place between Brugge and Meerbeke. For the second time in row this Belgian classic was won by the Belgian rider Stijn Devolder (Quick.Step).

    Quick.Step's retro cycling kit

    The Quick.Step team planned to participate in this Tour of Flanders in a retro cycling kit, with the blue colour for Quick.Step but different from the usual kit they wear (photo of the retro shirt). They didn't count on the UCI however, which ... apparently didn't appreciate this kit adapted to the historical race and threatened to disqualify the team.

    The team manager, Patrick Lefevere, said: I don't understand it. This is yet another example of the limited mind of the highest cycling authority. This retro kit was supposed to be a 'one time shot'. Quick Step's colour didn't even change with it. Blue remained bleu. I remember Milram suddenly showing up with a cow pattern on their shirts in the Tour of Germany last year. Or Discovery Channel wearing different shirts one day in the Tour. Team High Road changed shirts three times last year and even used completely different colours. The inventor of this interesting idea was Mario Cipollini who was known for his willingness to bring some fresh ideas to this sport.

    With such a conservative approach I'm not surprised this sport is not able to find new sponsors. We are not only boycotted in our modern ideas but also in the structure of our companies. I think it's time the ProTour teams stand up and speak with one voice.

    Finally the riders have signed the presence paper in their retro outfit before going back to the team bus to change.

    They were really disappointed when I told them on Saturday night in the Kennedy hotel in Kortrijk that the UCI didn't allow us to use this original cycling kit. They didn't understand it either. They even managed to get a corresponding black helmet and shoes. Too bad such a decision from the UCI.

    The route

    This 93rd edition of the Tour of Flanders as usual presented a route with many climbs (16). After the start from Brugge direction Torhout, Lichtervelde, Tielt, Deinze and Ghent to continue zig-zagging towards the finish in Meerbeke.

    Below you can see the route on a Google Maps map (source: Ronde van Vlaanderen).

    The race

    At the start in Brugge there were no less than 15,000 spectators on the "Markt" where the mayor, Patrick Moenaert, started the riders at 9.45AM.

    The riders started at high speed and did no less than 98 kilometers in the first two hours! Several attacks didn't lead to any escapes ...

    Aleksandr KuschynskiIn Zottegem, on the cobble stones of the Paddestraat, the Spanish rider José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Caisse d'Epargne) fell and was transported to the hospital with a broken wrist. Almost at the same time the first real escape was realised by Wim De Vocht (Vacansoleil), Filip Meirhaeghe (Landbouwkrediet), Sébastien Turgot (BBox Bouygues Telecom) and Aleksandr Kuschynski (foto, Liquigas). Wim De Vocht (Vacansoleil) and Aleksandr Kuschynski (Liquigas) took a bit of advance to start the climb of the Molenberg together. At 100 kilometers from the finish their advance was up to 2'25" before going back down to 1'20" at the Oude Kwaremont.

    In the mean time, at kilometer 130, Mirco Lorenzetto (Lampre-NGC) fell and was also transported to the hospital.

    In the climb of the Koppenberg the two leading riders are taken back by a group of five which got away from the peloton: Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto), Frédéric Guesdon (Francaise des Jeux), Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas) and Daniel Lloyd (Cervélo TestTeam) while Fabian Cancellara (Saxo Bank) climbs this mountain by foot with his bike on his shoulder because his chain fell off.

    Tom BoonenAt 62 kilometers from the finish, in the climb of the Taaienberg, it's up to Tom Boonen (photo, Quick.Step) to attack. He's immediately followed by Filippo Pozzato and they get company of about 20 other riders including Marcus Burghardt (Columbia High Road), Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam), Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) and Stijn Devolder (Quick.Step).
    At 50 kilometers from the finish the 7 leading riders have an advance of 1'40" on the peloton which got back together.

    Filippo PozzatoAt 43 kilometers from the finish, in the Berendries, Filippo Pozzato (photo) attacks without really getting away but thus accellerating the peloton and getting down the advance of the leading riders to 45 seconds. At 36 kilometers from the finish several riders get back together and in the end 6 riders lead the race: Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel and Stijn Devolder for Quick.Step and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto) and Manuel Quinziato (Liquigas). Manuel Quinziato than attacks, immediately followed by Sylvain Chavanel just before the other 4 riders are taken back by the peloton (at about 30 seconds behind the two leading riders).

    Stijn DevolderAt 25 kilometers from the finish Preben van Hecke (Topsport Vlaanderen) gets away from the peloton, followed by Stijn Devolder (photo) and 4 kilometers further they get together with the two leading riders. At the foot of the Kappelmuur they have a 47 seconds lead on the group with Tom Boonen and as it's often the case this is a decisive moment in the race because that's where the 2008 winner of this race, Stijn Devolder, decides to attack. At the foot of the Bosberg he had a 33 seconds lead on the riders who were part of the leading group he was in and one minute on Boonen and Pozzato. At 5 kilometers from the finish the difference has grown to over one minute while the followers are taken back by the peloton.

    That's how Stijn Devolder managed to become the 6th rider to win the Tour of Flanders twice in a row (Tom Boonen in 2005 and 2006, Eric Leman in 1971 and 1972, Achiel Buysse in 1940 and 1941, Romain Gijssels in 1931 and 1932 and Fiorenzo Magni three times in a row in 1949, 1950 and 1951) so he happily showed two fingers in the sky. Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam) got a little bit ahead of the peloton just before the finish to take the second place, just like in Milan-San Remo, while Philippe Gilbert (Silence-Lotto) finished third.

    At 500 meters from the finish there was a big crash with especially Grégory Rast (Astana) and Anthony Geslin (Française des Jeux). Anthony Geslin finished the race by foot, walking with his bike.

    1/ Stijn Devolder (Quick.Step)
    2/ Heinrich Haussler (Cervélo TestTeam)
    3/ Philippe Gilbert (Silence Lotto)
    4/ Martijn Maaskant (Garmin Slipstream)
    5/ Filippo Pozzato (Katusha)
    6/ Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank)
    7/ Marcus Burghardt (Columbia High Road)

    At the podium Stijn Devolder showed his happiness when the guy who gave him his bottle of champagne had to run not to get the whole contents sprayed over him!

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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